New MS medication – Mavenclad – now available in Canada
A new oral medication is now available in Canada to treat relapsing-remitting MS. Mavenclad (cladribine tablets) will generally be used for people who haven’t responded to a prior MS medication, or have had intolerable side effects. The drug was approved based on the results of the CLARITY study (Giovannoni and colleagues. N Engl J Med 2010;362:416-426), which showed that Mavenclad was highly effective in reducing relapses and the number of lesions on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
The unique feature with Mavenclad is that it is the only oral medication that is taken as a short treatment course – two weeks of therapy a year for two years, and the pills are taken in your home. This distinguishes it from other MS medications. Other oral medications, such as Aubagio and Gilenya, need to be taken every day. The other short-course treatments, Lemtrada and Ocrevus, need to be injected at an infusion centre.
Once you’ve completed the two years of therapy with Mavenclad, most people won’t require any MS medication for another two years or more.
Mavenclad is believed to work by eliminating disease-causing cells from your immune system, which is similar to how Lemtrada and Ocrevus work. Treatment is generally tolerated well. The most common side effects are upper respiratory tract infection, and headache. The only safety monitoring that’s required with Mavenclad are a blood test before you start treatment, and periodically thereafter.
Although Mavenclad is only taken intermittently for a limited time, the drug has a long-lasting impact on suppressing MS. Studies have shown that after taking Mavenclad for two years, 47% of people had no relapses, no worsening of their disability, and no new inflammatory lesions on their MRI (Giovannoni et al. Lancet Neurol 2011;10:329-337).
The CLARITY study is available as a free download in the MSology Library under MS therapies.
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